Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Materialism Expanded and Remixed

Materialism Expanded and Remixed

Ratings: (0)|Views: 6,580|Likes:
Published by Timothy Morton
A talk to be given at Johns Hopkins University in April 2010. What are the implications of new phenomena such as global warming, plutonium, and nonlocality, for our understanding of the nature of matter?
A talk to be given at Johns Hopkins University in April 2010. What are the implications of new phenomena such as global warming, plutonium, and nonlocality, for our understanding of the nature of matter?

More info:

Published by: Timothy Morton on Jan 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





 Materialism Expanded and RemixedTimothy MortonNow is a very good time to rethink what we mean by matter, as JaneBennett's highly engaging study argues. The time is ripe for several reasons.The current ecological crisis, far from imminent but rather fully underway,has given rise to predictive and mapping instruments that can measureclimate in real time. Being a very complex derivative of weather, real timeclimate mapping requires terabytes of RAM per second processing speeds,which means that it quite a way beyond the capacity of an individual humanbrain. This would explain a lot about global warming deniers, no? Climate isnot a palpable thing but it will kill you just as surely as a train with aconstant momentum will kill you, even if it slows down, if you're tied to thetracks. Wet, palpable stuff like snow is now less real, in quite an obvioussense, than something you can't see or feel. Something that affectseverywhere all at once.
2The creation of what I've called
also causes us to rethink materialism. Hyperobjects are things that massively transcend humanhistorical time scales. Plutonium, for example, has a half-life of 24 100 years.This means that it will remain dangerously radioactive for longer than all of recorded history thus far, doubled. Thirdly, developments in quantumtheory—finally an ontological view is beginning to emerge from the welterof pragmatism, seriously addressing at last the issue of nonlocality—requireus to rethink matter at the most profound scale we have yet imagined,outside of esoteric religion. I could go on—you could easily come up withfourth and fifth (and so on) examples of disturbing new materials in our era.The three phenomena I've sketched are in the newspapers, let alonein the academy. The humanities can probably ignore science, as it oftendoes, and some humanists can turn a blind eye to philosophicaldevelopments such as the Deleuzian rapprochement with Leibniz andSpinoza (and so on). But global warming and hyperobjects, not so much— and nonlocality, which is the quantum issue, means that you don't have togo to a Tibetan monastery to find out this kind of stuff. Someone down theblock from you on campus is thinking about it, right now. My colleagues inmy wing of the university tend to be sticks in the mud, for whateverreason—in particular the ones who say they are materialists. This has
3something to do with an institutional anxiety, and a fascination for thingsthat seem more “real” than literature and art: humanities scholars can befar more scientistic than scientists. But it also has to do with a phobia forsubjectivity as such, masquerading as a disdain for “religion” and “religiousexperiences.” At a Marxism seminar at Oxford in the late 80s I rememberone rather belligerent fellow guilting us out for even thinking aboutdeconstruction—“Reality as I see it is like a boring painting, but you make itsound like an acid trip.” The funny thing is, the current state of physicsmeans that the view of matter as shiny pingpong balls, with a separate self viewing them, is the hallucination.In any case, these developments are 1) Real, 2) Pressing and 3) Theyseverely limit (or in the case of nonlocality, profoundly undermine) amaterialism consisting of little shiny pingpong balls, bundled with theattitude of subject–object dualism, in particular, the mind–matter manifoldthat has done some damage (shall we say) in its rather brief historical run.Of course, the devil is in the details, and how human beings progress to apoint at which they are ready to drop the shiny pingpong balls might look paradoxically like a walk through the darkness of the valley of dualism—of which more later.

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->